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Performing the Past Time Travels in Archaeological Open-air Museums
Taken from The Archaeology of Time Travel (Petersson & Holtorf (eds), Archaeopress, 2017) by Stefanie Samida.
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Historical and archaeological topics have been very popular for many years. This is witnessed by a variety of events and developments, as for example by time travel formats on television as well as by such performances at historic sites or at open-air museums. These historical performances and affective adoptions bodily and sensual experiences that serve as a medium to the past attract a large audience. This chapter is devoted to these historical performances and their impact as an educational tool in archaeological open-air museums, especially in Germany where their use is still in its infancy. The first part of the chapter deals with the phenomenon and development of historical performances, while the second focusses on potentials and limits of recent time travel performances in German archaeological open-air museums on the basis of interviews with performers and museum curators. The analysis looks at both the benefits and limitations of living history performances. On the one hand, time travels offer benefits because they stem from the haptic nature of the experience and the ability of the viewer to interact with history through their senses. On the other hand, time travels can, for example, create stereotypical presentations of the past. A look back at the roots and the analysis of contemporary living history performances illustrates that time travels tell us more about the time they are practiced than they do about the past.

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The Archaeology of Time Travel

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